Eastbourne | Burrage and Dart win openers, as does Muguruza

Both Britain’s Jodie Burrage and Harriet Dart won their first round matches at the Rothesay International in Eastbourne, but Heather Watson fell, while Garbiñe Muguruza, one of only 3 seeds in action on Monday, earned her first grass-court win in nearly a year.

The conditions were hard today. I feel like I fought hard against the wind, and I haven't played many matches on grass either. I could see, today, that if I didn't fight as hard as I can, I wasn't going to win. Garbiñe Muguruza

Burrage, who was the runner-up at the Ilkley Trophy on Sunday, fought back from a set and 5-3 down to beat Croatia’s Petra Martic, ranked 80 in the world, 3-6 7-5 6-3, to book an encounter with top seed Paula Badosa from Spain on Tuesday.

The British No 5, ranked 169, faced down a match point before turning the match around on Court Two against her Croatian opponent at a sunny Devonshire Park.

Dart also lost the first set against Madison Brengle, but rallied past the American, ranked 50, to win 3-6 6-1 6-4, and earn a 2nd-round meeting with 10th seed Jil Teichmann from Switzerland.

The British No 2, ranked 103, reeled off the first 3 games of the match but then lost the next 6 to trail by a set before finding  her form in the second, and edging a back-and-forth decider following multiple breaks to book a last-32 meeting with the Swiss.

Heather Watson, however, was unable to join her compatriots in round 2 as she suffered a 7-6 6-4 defeat at the hands of Canada’s Rebecca Marino in a battle between two lucky losers.

Both Watson and Marino had fallen at the final hurdle of qualifying, but got late calls into the main draw for the final WTA 500 event ahead of Wimbledon.

Marino, ranked 107th in the world, next faces 12th-seeded Camila Giorgi of Italy.

Harriet Dart took out Madison Brengle in 3 sets at Eastbourne on Monday

© Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for LTA

Meanwhile, Muguruza, who received a bye into the 2nd-round alongside the other top 16 seeds, managed to kickstart her difficult season by beat Poland’s Magdalena Frech, 6-1 7-6(7), to reach the last 16.

The former World No 1 and Wimbledon champion is seeded 5 at Eastbourne, and now has earned just 3 wins on tour since February.

After a first set that lasted just over a half hour, Muguruza was pushed hard in the second by the World No 92, the third-highest ranked Polish player.

The Spaniard built up a 6-1, 3-1 lead but Frech got the second set back on serve, and was ahead for much of it from then on, before battling back from a big deficit in the tiebreak.

Muguruza won the 5 of the first 6 points of the breaker, but ultimately needed 4 match points to secure a 1 hour, 42-minute victory.

Since winning the AKRON WTA Finals in Guadalajara, Mexico to end 2021, the two-time major-winner has struggled with her form and the win against Frech comes as a welcome boost ahead of Wimbledon.

“The conditions were hard today,” a relieved Muguruza said on court afterwards. “I feel like I fought hard against the wind, and I haven’t played many matches on grass either.

“I could see, today, that if I didn’t fight as hard as I can, I wasn’t going to win.”

Muguruza next faces the winner of the second round match between Giorgi and Marino.

Garbiñe Muguruza was pushed into a breaker before beating Magdalena Frech to open her account at Devonshire Park and reach the Round 16

© Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for LTA

Another Pole, Magda Linette, pulled off an upset to beat 17th seed Alison Riske in a marathon encounter lasting over 3 hours, the World No 66 coming from a set down to outlast the American, 6-7(3) 6-3 7-6(4).

The 3rd seed in action on Monday was Yulia Putintseva, the No 16 from Kazakstan, who got the better of Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo, 7-5 6-1.

In other results on Monday, Croatian qualifier Donna Vekic cruised past Dayana Yastremska from Ukraine, 6-0 6-2, while fellow Ukrainian Lesla Tsurenko overcame Colombia’s Camila Osorio, 7-5 7-6(2).

Vekic will face two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova from Czech republic, seeded 14 here, in the next round.

Tsurenko, who came through qualifying, sealed the first set on her 6th set point and saved a set point in the second when Osorio was serving for it at 5-4, before prevailing to set up a second round encounter with Elena Rybakina, the No 9 seed from Kazakstan.

Devonshire Park provides a unique venue for the Rothesay International, which enjoys relaxed crowds

© Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

All eyes turn to Serena Williams on Tuesday, who returns to the WTA Tour in the doubles playing alongside World No 3 Ons Jabeur.

Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, has not played since suffering a leg injury during her first-round match at Wimbledon 12 months ago, plummeting to 1,204th in the WTA rankings.

The 40-year-old has been handed a wild-card to return to singles action at The Championships next week, and is looking to get some match practice this week at Eastbourne.

While she has practised on grass away from Devonshire Park, Williams has maintained a low profile on site, cancelling a practice session there on Monday, while her partner hightailed it from Berlin to Eastbourne.

“Many players were jealous because I’m playing with her. Honestly, Serena is Serena. She is a legend and always will be,” said Jabeur, who won the title in Berlin on Sunday. “I’m really nervous to play.

“I wanted to tell everyone but, obviously, I couldn’t. I told my family, but even my close friends, I didn’t tell anyone.

“Excited, really lucky that she picked me. I’m pretty glad that I can share the court with her.

“I always watched Serena playing and always supported her.”

The surprise pairing came about after Eric Hechtmann, who has been Venus Williams’ coach since 2019 and is now working with Serena as well, reached out to Jabeur’s coach Issam Jellali before the French Open to see if there was any interest.

“I don’t know why she picked me to be honest,” Jabeur said with a laugh. “Maybe she watched Madrid.

“I met her a few times outside the court and she was always nice. I remember exchanging pins with her in Rio. I respect her so much.”

Jabeur will be just the 6th woman to play doubles with Serena, joining an exclusive club that includes Venus, Martina Navratilova, Alexandra Stevenson, Alison Riske, and Caroline Wozniacki.

Jabeur is not taking her partnership with Serena lightly and, while she rarely plays doubles, she teamed with Muguruza in Berlin to get a better feel for the doubles craft, and also spoke to doubles specialists to get as many tips as she could.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. I had to take my time in Berlin, but now it’s Eastbourne. I cannot wait for this moment.”

Williams & Jabeur begin their partnership against Sorribes Tormo & Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic.



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